I think everyone and their sister has heard by now that Joe Biden called Barack Obama the first mainstream African-American – not mainstream African-American presidential candidate, mind you, mainstream African-American – to be “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” And basically everyone, correctly, considers this more than a tad racist and in all probability lethal to Biden’s campaign. But not enough words have been spent discussing the fact that Biden considers Obama “nice-looking.” The discovery that even an apparent racist like Biden can have a mancrush on a black man is more than a little encouraging.
P.S. – Just for the record, this isn’t an isolated incident. Biden’s been racially insensitive this whole campaign.
When I saw Richard Thompson live this past fall, I assumed that the anti-Iraq protest song he sang, “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” (“Dad” being short for “Baghdad”) had been on one of his recent albums that I didn’t have. It turns out he’s only releasing it on his upcoming one. In any case, the song’s good enough that you should get it on iTunes even if you don’t get the new album.
This has been overshadowed by his admittedly awesome Iraq resolution, but today Barack Obama introduced legislation that would ban the robo-calls and voter intimidation that the Republicans used extensively during this past election. If you want to make sure that what happened during the last election cycle never happens again, click here and tell your senators to support Obama’s bill.
I’m not overly surprised that 68% of people in Iran – a Shi’ite country – hold a “very unfavorable” view of Osama bin Laden – a Sunni terrorist. What does surprise me, however, is that 2% of Americans hold a “very favorable view” of bin Laden. Seriously, how many times did Dinesh D’Souza get called?
First off, I didn’t get to ask my question; there just wasn’t time. Look, Edwards is a charismatic guy who is capable of making himself sound intelligent. So was Huey Long. But dig a little deeper and you see a guy with real, serious problems. In the course of an hour, Edwards more or less proved that he’s unworthy of the presidency.
The problems started with his wife’s introduction. She referenced North Carolina’s motto (Esse quam videri, or “to be, rather than to seem”) and commented on how perfectly if describes her husband, how honest he was, how genuine. This was a recurring theme in the speech. Edwards would periodically, and self-congratulatingly, say, “I have to be honest here,” and then mention something that the left of the party doesn’t like, like his initial enthusiastic backing of the war or his uncomfortableness with teh gay (he was visibly disturbed by a students’ question on that subject). And he repeatedly said that the US needed a leader who was “honest” with it.
All of which is curious, considering that Edwards showed himself to be, if not dishonest, a fool. About halfway through the speech, he commented about international poverty, how much worse it is than domestic poverty, and how the US has to do something about it. Then, in response to the first question (about Jim Webb and the neo-populist movement in the Democratic party), he called globalization “sick,” “unfair” and “deeply unhealthy”. He didn’t say it was mismanaged – he maligned the entire concept. This isn’t Gephardt. This is Nader.
Now, there are two ways for a person to be capable of saying that the US needs to deal with international poverty and that globalization is evil in the same event. One possibility is that the person’s stupid and doesn’t recognize that there’s a contradiction. The other is that he’s a charlatan who cares about the union vote and not about intellectually honesty. Whichever is the case, Edwards is not deserving of the presidency.
There are three other things to note. One is that Edwards took criticism of his saber-rattling with regards to Iran to heart – he had an explicit line or two condemning a hypothetical military strike. Another is his admission that he’s uncomfortable with gay marriage and, he implied, the whole issue; any feminist who supports this man needs to do some hard thinking. Finally, anyone who thinks that Edwards’ populism will lead him to support single-payer health care is very mistaken. Edwards got a question from an SEIU activist who talked about how US health care is the best in the world (it isn’t), how he didn’t want a government-run plan because such a plan would nationalize one third of the economy (it wouldn’t) but how he wanted to expand access to coverage. Edwards responded that “very shortly” he would reveal his health care plan, which he’s already decided on, and which would provide universal coverage without “government control”. He did say that he intends to break the link between employment and health care, which should make Ezra happy, but he also sent a pretty strong signal that we shouldn’t expect Medicare for All.
If you, like me, think that someone who co-sponsored the Iraq War Resolution has no business positioning himself as the antiwar candidate, see what Barack Obama’s up to now. This is the complete text of an email that the junior senator from Illinois just sent me:
Today, we sadly find ourselves at the very point in Iraq I feared most when I opposed giving the President the open-ended authority to wage this war in 2002 – an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences in the midst of a country torn by civil war.
We have waited and we have been patient. We have given chance after chance for a resolution that has not come, and, more importantly, watched with horror and grief the tragic loss of thousands of brave young Americans.
The time for waiting in Iraq is over. The days of our open-ended commitment must come to a close. And the need to bring this war to an end is here.
That is why today, I’m introducing the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007. This plan would not only place a cap on the number of troops in Iraq and stop the escalation, it would begin a phased redeployment of U.S. forces with the goal of removing of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by March 31st, 2008 – consistent with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that the President ignored.
The redeployment of troops to the United States , Afghanistan , and elsewhere in the region would begin no later than May 1st of this year, toward the end of the timeframe I first proposed in a speech more than two months ago. In a civil war where no military solution exists, this redeployment remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve the political settlement between its warring factions that can slow the bloodshed and promote stability.
The U.S. military has performed valiantly and brilliantly in Iraq . Our troops have done all we have asked them to do and more. But no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war, nor settle the grievances in the hearts of the combatants.
When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience, is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent for us to trust the President on another tried and failed policy opposed by generals and experts, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and even the Iraqis themselves.
It is time to change our policy.
It is time to give Iraqis their country back.
And it is time to refocus America ’s efforts on the challenges we face at home and the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.
U.S. Senator Barack Obama
Read that again. Every single troop home 14 months from now. That’s ballsy. And that’s why I love this guy. He got this issue right in October 2002 and he’s getting it right now.
On a related subject, John Edwards will be speaking at Dartmouth tomorrow at 2:45, and I will be present. And I plan to ask him this question:
Senator Edwards, you have based your campaign on an appeal to end poverty. The vast majority of economists believe that the most effective means of reducing world poverty is expanded international trade. Why then did you consistently oppose any and all free trade agreements during your time in the Senate?
I will be very interested to hear his response.
Jon Stewart once said of Old-man-shot-in-the-face-gate, “It’s easy to make fun of a situation such as this. UNBELIEVABLY easy.” The same thing could be said of this. I mean, honestly, who thought hiring the author of Desserts for Dummies as the White House’s pastry chef would not make hundreds of Democrats laugh their asses off?